Gustavo de Aristegui, Ambassador of Spain
Spain, which has a long maritime history, takes enormous pride in its ships. On the eve of the visit of the Spanish Armada ship Cantabria in Goa soon, the Spanish Embassy in India and also a substantial number of Spaniards here are ‘emotional’ and ‘excite
SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): Can you elaborate on the objectives and sentiments behind the arrival of the Spanish Armada Cantabria? Ambassador Gustavo de Aristegui (Ambassador): We are proud of this. It is the first time in the history of our bilateral relationship a ship is coming to an Indian port. The visit of Cantabria, the huge sailing school ship for naval officers is an emotional moment for us. We have a beautiful protocol as we have the oldest Marine Corps in the world and all the tradition is there. Our naval officers are the finest and they have been deployed with the Royal Australian Navy for almost a year.
It is an essential ship for modern naval warfare and it also has 25bed hospital, ICU and dental clinic. It is one of those multi-purpose ships in concept. We have created newer version of long helicopter deck (LHD) and it is a Spanish invention of landing platform dock (LPD) and an aircraft carrier. The Royal Australian Navy has received two of these ships. In the Indian configuration of the ships it will be a long helicopter deck. It is effective in combat, submarine warfare, rescue etc. The ship is conceived as a projection of amphibious warfare. It has a dock in the stern of the ship that has capacity to launch six assault boats with capacity for dozens of troops in each of them. Once the ship nears a beach, the back of the ship opens and six fast attack boats can be launched. It is state-of-the-art and has many command and control systems wherein thousands of troops can be controlled on sea. It can also control air traffic hundreds of miles of the ship. It has the most advanced pod propeller system.
A 30,000-tonne ship actually manoeuvres like a small ferry. Everything that commands the ship is above the floatation line which is again a novelty. It can transport 5,000 people. It can be used in humanitarian relief work such as the earthquake in Haiti. The ship can go to the coast and be transformed as a relief centre... it can have war tanks, trucks with humanitarian aid. This is the most versatile warship in the world right now. SP’s: What all Spain can offer to have a strong base of partnership in India for the global market? Ambassador: It is very complimentary. I see great opportunity in the emerging markets. When I see India it is not just great opportunity but great opportunity for meaningful and solid partnership. Why? Because India is known for intellectual property and like Spain it is devoted to high technology, engineering, avant-garde solutions, research and development, infrastructure, tourism, and defence.
In defence, we have sophisticated system of multidimensional electronic and radar multilinked systems. Our coastline is highly protected. We have the 13th largest coastline (7,800 km of coastline as peninsula) as we have so many islands. This makes us a maritime nation. So is India which is between two oceans and you are in a complicated neighbourhood. It is not an easy neighbourhood. Spain is good at thwarting terror threats, organised crime, illegal trafficking etc. Our systems are quite impressive and we are going to invite Indian officials to visit coastal defence systems. Our systems such as radars, motion detectors, infrared cameras, CCTV cameras and all combined gives us a picture of what is happening up to 16 kilometres into sea. It is extremely effective in search and rescue operations and response time is much faster.